Monday, May 12, 2014

Are You Only Worth $.99?

Let's face facts.  You wrote a book.  You spent, at minimum, a whole year creating a wonderful story, painstakingly going over it repeatedly to make sure each sentence was perfect.  You had a professional editor comb through it for flaws and errors - and corrected those found.  You paid for a ultra-fantastic image for the cover of your book.  And to a lackluster fanfare, you release it for...


No wait!  You only set the price at that ridiculously low price so Amazon would take it.  Actually, you're currently running a special where the price is...


That's right. Zip. Zilch. Nada. Zero. Nothing. etc etc etc

You ain't making a dime and in the thrill of it all, you have given away 3,783 copies so far in only 4.2 hours!  The book is quickly gaining speed and is in the number 1 spot on Kindle for some obtuse extraneous category.

The days of free giveaway expire and in giddy high of being overwhelmed you sit back and breathe.  In the short length of free-feeding-frenzy, your book was downloaded by an awesome total of 10,861 people and you have claimed the number 1 free book position for a day.

The Day After...

Like any drunk, the morning after comes and your head is still spinning over the prior day's activities. You jump onto the computer and check your status... and your sales.

The price is now $.99 and you have 3 ... yes, THREE sales.  You've made a buck-nickle.  You smile.

The Following Week...

You drag yourself to the computer and grudgingly log into Kindle for possible validation of sales.


In the seven days since your free giveaway, you have sold a total of 5 - FIVE - ebooks.  Royalty: $1.75.

At this point in the story, there are other possible scenarios as to what will happen next...

1)  Go to the park and feed the pigeons.
2)  Call a friend and whine.
3)  Start a new book using "sour grapes" theory to write a better book.
4)  Evaluate marketing strategy.

IF ... IF you decide on step 4, the first thing you must realize is your net worth.  You spent a year on that last book and gave away over 10k copies.  Step back and re-evaluate...

If you'd set the newly released book price at $2.99, $3.99 or even $4.99... AND then sold it on Release Day for a mere $.99 -- think of the sales figures.  Even if you only sold 1,000 copies...
             $.35 (Amazon royalty) X 1,000 ebooks = $350.00

Now, take that times 10 for the 10,000 books you gave away.  Yes... $3,500.00

That is $3,500 you lost in possible revenue.  Now let's look at the real facts.

If you'd had sold 1,000 copies at $2.99 - royalty rate of 70% or about $2.10 would equal $2,100.00. So, if you take that times 10 again, the figure is a tidy $21,000.00.  That same number at $4.99 would be a whopping $35,000.00

I've read the books where some authors "sell" the concept that you should price your books $.99 and go for the 'cheap' sales ruse.

Is your book not worth more?  Who has decided that you should only ask $.99 for a copy of your work?  Why buy into a conspiracy?  Yes, a conspiracy.  If you've spent the time to write and edit a novel AND paid to have it professionally edited AND paid for a professional cover, you deserve to price your book like the big boys AKA Big Publishers.  You don't see Simon and Schuster, Random House or one of the other BIG 6 Publishers pricing their books at $.99 and/or giving them away for free.

Oh wait!  You gave your books away for free so you could get your name out there.  Well, why didn't you say that.  My question is this - How's that working out for you?  Does anyone know you now? Oh, and how much food is that putting on the table?

Yes, I'm being sarcastic.  I feel I'm worth more than $.99 and you should, too.  Yes, I did have my books at $.99.  They are now selling at higher prices.  When a reader buys a copy of my book, I know that reader is going to read it because they spent good money.  A free copy can linger on an ereader for an eternity.  I know this for a fact.  How? When I first got my ereader I snagged a lot of free copies and so far, (shame on me!) I've only read a few of them.  I don't give my books away anymore ... unless I'm at a conference and I offer it as a door prize.

You've written a book - you're an author.

So, now I ask you again... Are you only worth $.99?

Until next I ramble on...


  1. I asked a "big house" author about her book being $1.99. She said Amazon did it and she still received her same royalty. Amazon lowered the price of Rebekah's Julianne. If the lower prices are not effective, why does Amazon do it?

    1. Amazon makes $$ whether or not you sell for $.99 or $99.99. If they sell 3 books at $1.99, they still make money. The 'big house' will do it to help encourage sales AND inflate sales figures. For them it looks better to sell 3 books at $19.99 and 8 books at $1.99 than only to see 3 books at $19.99. It's all screwy marketing ploys.

  2. What a fantastic post - I struggle with this constantly. And yes, my books ARE worth more than free.

  3. I will never be free. That is all. !!!! LOL!!

  4. Yeah - there is no way for me to hold freebies with Amazon, because of the amount of photos I have in my Yoga book. And Ms. Cheevious in Hollywood will be handled through a publisher, so we're good there. I agree with your sentiments though.

    1. Good for you. Looking forward to the book.

  5. Good points, Bob. I agree. Other than an occasional day, I keep my prices up. I think discounts have a place in most marketing strategies, but pricing at 99 cents as a regular thing makes no business sense.

    1. I see nothing wrong with a "cheap" day from time to time... but as to giving it away. I've worked too hard and I know you, too, have worked hard to get where you are -- no reason to just give it away.

  6. You've raised some really good points here, especially since .99 cents doesn't seem to be working out well for me either...

    1. I really feel the reader questions the quality of the product when it is free or only $.99 on a regular basis. Plus, 3 books at $.99 = $1.05 while only 1 book at $2.99 = $2.10. The question is simple - more sales or higher return?

  7. As a reader, I won't buy a book regularly priced at $0.99. As a writer, I won't price a book there for that exact reason.

    1. Ciara - I rest my case. I agree. Would you lower your price to $.99 for a period of time? A sale, if you will?

    2. For a sale, yes. I think discounting is (and always has been) a valid marketing tactic. I also think people value something they paid for more than something they received for free, and I think they feel good when they feel they got a bargain. getting it free isn't a bargain - it's a handout. Getting it cheap as compared to full price is a bargain.

      I HAVE heard that making the first book in a series free can be very effective to build a more profitable readership and get more sales and profit on the sequels than you would have got otherwise, but a) I'm not sure I could ever bring myself to do it (especially not on a novel - maybe MAYBE a shorter work) and b) I think it'd want to be a long series at that, to maximise the ability to recoup any initial losses. Loss leaders are also a valid and longstanding marketing tactic, but the idea stings.

  8. I understand the free series thing and I would do that WHEN I release the 2nd book in hopes of getting more readership. As you state, free isn't a bargain, it's a handout. I might consider free but more than likely, just lower book 1's price. Marketing tactics are the writer's new companion.

    1. Absolutely, there'd be no point in offering Book 1 free before any of the rest of the series was available. I'm inclined to agree that offering the first book at a reduced price might be preferable.